Yesterday was 10.10

Yesterday was Most Gorgeous date of 10.10.  I love to commemorate beautiful dates but I felt fake to write up a shiny, happy 10.10 ditty when my innards were in struggle mode.

Friends’ loved ones have passed.  As young as in the womb and older folks in their sunset years.  I grieve with them.  Another person who has passed actually meant nothing to me personally, only by association.  We have only had minimal experiences on the periphery, and those were tense due to said associations.

I have yet to reconcile with Kevin after a blow-up over the weekend.  The details are unnecessary as they sound beyond trifling especially in light of my preceding paragraph.   Most marital conflicts are not about the incident at hand, but “infinity loops” of recurring, unresolved shit.

My friend sent me this in response to my heated texts about how I am still raging:

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:30-32

I explained to her that I don’t respond well to Bible verses or “I’ll pray for you” without a personal mini-testimony of how they went through something themselves.

Lord, I don’t know how to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger.  Sure, I need to read me some more Word but HOW is my persisting question?  Especially when I don’t WANT to put away those things.

Anger is my shield and protection.  When I struggle with forgiveness of some people in my life, my struggle is not because I can’t forgive them.

My issue with forgiveness is quite the opposite.  It’s about not ackin’ a fool when I see them again because my true nature is huggy and warm and “How you zooin’?” so I don’t know how to FORGIVE but still remain reserved and cold, guarding my heart, thus NOT being myself.

Lord, teach me how to forgive but still have sturdy fencing around my heart ‘cuz You have to know that even though You love urrbody, some of Your creation remain unsafe to me.

So yesterday, on this perfect date of 10/10, my second son with his big cartoon eyes had beef with me:  “You still haven’t apologized to Daddy about the _______.”

I couldn’t believe he knew that we had not reconciled yet even though we still been doing so much family stuff.  I asked him, “What if I had apologized while you were sleeping?”

He said he just knew.  Why must kids be so dang smart and hold you accountable to be a better human?!  Augh!  What if I don’t want to grow, huh?

So 10.10.17, you were far from perfect but I’m glad that I have these next less-gorgeous dates to try again.

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I saved this from someone’s FB post because I don’t speak like this when raging.

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My First Chuseok Birthday

Thankfully, birthdays are just once a year.  Makes it all the more special.

Any more frequent and I wouldn’t be able to recognize myself, oozing entitlement and extra fat:

“If I want left over chow fun for my first meal, the last of the chow fun I was saving for my ‘fat noodoo’-loving second son, I shall eat that chow fun.  It can’t always be about the kids.

And if that handful of beef chow fun doesn’t look like it’s going to fill me up, I shall help myself to some leftover pizza as well.

Oh, and I don’t want to take care of x, y, and z today.  SO I WON’T.  It’s my birfday!  I see Kevin over there, tryna regulate the boys but I will just sit here.  It’s my birfday and only a few hours left.”

This birthday was a breath of fresh air as I didn’t have to hustle for my worth all day.  I seem to give myself permission to not hustle when I am sick or on special occasions like my birthday.  This year, I was sick on my birthday.

I woke up feeling moved to tears, grateful to be alive, for the breath in my lungs, for the beaming baby in the bassinet she has outgrown, and for the family members climbing in to our King to wish me a happy birthday.

The world is grieving after major hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and most recently, the entire island of Puerto Rico.  People are suffering and our President does not know how to show compassion and respect as he throws paper towels at the people of Puerto Rico, like a big buffoon mistaking the gathering to be a sports event.

A few nights ago, as we tucked in our newly minted five year old on his birthday, an American terrorist killed at least 59 people at a concert in Vegas, in what has been reported as “the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”  Thankful for small graces as we were spared news of this horror until the next morning, when it was no longer E’s birthday.

For the first time that I can recall or maybe the first time ever, my birthday landed on the same day as Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving.  It also landed on the same day or around the same time as friend’s losses.  I honored life, in all of its beauty, its fragility, its robustness and its unpredictability.  As cheesy as it is, I was so grateful to be alive.

I am jotting this down so that I can look back and recall that on this birthday, I was blessed with:

-a friend’s visit, her arms full of a ridiculous amount of hand-me-downs for Olive, along with a cupcake for Mama and a welcome gift for Olive,

-my kids’ cards and the accompanying innocence and confidence that those sheets of markered up paper would more than suffice (and they did),

-hearing from friends throughout the entire day,

-my mom singing me “Happy Birthday” on FaceTime and then getting embarrassed when I said oh, a friend is over right now,

-Kevin’s gifts and insistence on getting my own cake even though I texted him “No need for cake.  We have Ellis’ leftovers.  Don’t want to start forest (hills) fire.”  He didn’t get my reference to my mature age and forest fire due to number of candles and texted back, “Fire in FH?”

-Kevin’s surprise of surf and turf at home.  Surf – he picked up my faves, fried softshell crab and oysters.  Turf – he made us all galbi-jjim (braised short rib).

-I got to say a birthday prayer as I blew out my candles with my family surrounding me, including the new kid I am cross-eyed in love with.  Then she went to bed easily in her too-small bassinet so that Daddy and I can watch some TV.

It was a simple and gorgeous birthday I hope to always remember.  Gorgeous in its simplicity.  My heart is still bursting with gratitude.

Happy Chuseok!

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I love hand-me-downs!

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I love softshell crab and oysters.  I would stick candles into seafood if I could.

 

 

 

A Husband’s Wisdom

I have supersonic hearing.

I can’t tune out noise.

I’ve cried before from a particularly gnarly subway and bus braking screech or loud-ass ambulance sirens that felt like someone was yanking out my intestines.

I empathize with children who have sensory issues as I probably do, too.

I feel so strongly that if I am at a gathering and someone is pissed the F off, I cannot just enjoy myself and laugh in the corner.

I absorb others’ energy.  I used to cry when I witnessed public proposals, once even hugging the couple I didn’t know.  When I see someone crying on the subway, I feel their sadness and depending on the situation, I offer them their space, a tissue, or some words.

I say all this because as a mom, it would help to be able to tune out noise.

When I asked Kevin how he doesn’t get as flustered as me sometimes, say, when he takes the kids grocery-shopping by himself, something I haven’t done in ages,  he explained, “Oh, I tune them out sometimes.  It’s great.  You should try it.”

“Really?”  Because I have this supersonic hearing and other sensitivities, I can NOT tune out my kids OR tune out other kids’ noises.

Also, when I’m spending time with my kids and they are not otherwise engaged or fighting, I try to teach them a li’l something by engaging them in conversation or when they were younger, even setting up a simulated kidnapping/Stranger Danger situation on our walks, which they enjoyed way too much, asking me to do it again and again.

This means that I am constantly engaging or repeating myself and it has got me fried at the end of the day.  “Don’t touch your sister.  Back up.  Don’t climb that.  Walk to the side of the street.  Watch out.  Don’t jump.  Mind your manners.  Focus.”

This is my job as a Mom.  I want them to hear my voice when I am gone.

So yesterday, we had a marathon afternoon after school let out.

Kids’ noises galore at the library, homework time for each son with my reminding them to stay seated even with sensory delights everywhere, my stroller can’t get past other kids’ backpacks strewn all over the floor, my kids are happy but fooling around with their friends and the energy is amping up, and other details too boring to type out.

We part ways from our friends.  We stop for snacks I had packed as we stroller over for our dentist appointment.  Another kid walks by with his mom and he kicks a rock as kids are prone to do and it hits me smack dab on my bony, ashy foot.  It hurts.

I growl as the mom apologizes.  I’ve been her before yet I still growl while sweating from the heat and then judge myself for becoming real crabby like a baby during his witching hour.  If I can cut out this judging of self, or at least reduce it lots, I’d be better off.  Micah tells me that the rock-kicker was his classmate.  I feel bad for growling at him.

I pass by familiar faced moms who seem to be way more patient with their kids for doing kid stuff like squeal and run off.

As I was going to bed after Kevin and I got to watch “This is Us,” and laughing to myself about how these days, “binge-watching” is equivalent to watching one show to completion, I said,

“Kevin, I feel like the angel and devil on my shoulders are always fighting and it is f*cking exhausting.  Kids are blessings, kids are blessings, kids are TRULY blessings but I can also hear myself repeating silently, kids are so annoying, kids are so annoying.  You know a counselor once told me that I should practice holding opposites in tension…something about both being true and being okay with that.

My brain already went to bed, I don’t know if you even know what I’m referring to.  I just feel bad that I go to kid gatherings and think, Damn, kids are so annoying…when they are such blessings!”

Kevin looked me square in the eyes in the dark with our two fans and AC going:

“Kids are annoying as F.”

What a perfect, pithy gift.  Husband spoke my love language and gave me a belly laugh.

The Power of “Me, Too”

Two weekends ago, I had to call my girlfriend from Six Flags to pray for and with me.  Because we’ve had our own disjointed, shorthand, can-talk-over-each-other language since seventh grade, she is the only friend I can still call without feeling like I am disrupting someone’s busy weekend, even though I *was* disrupting her as she set up for her daughter’s birthday party.

As soon as I heard her voice, I started crying, still holding Olive, first trying to find half a bench to sit on, then pacing so that I can have some privacy away from the benched Funnel Cakers.  I was holding her awkwardly, trying to keep her out of the sun while the sun kept following us.

After wasting our time yelling at each other and NOT hearing each other, Kevin had taken the boys to a different section of the park.  I felt abandoned but looking back, it allowed me to catch my breath and stop raging in front of the kids.

I was grateful that Olive was too young to later say, “Remember that time Mommy was crying at Six Flags?”

I continued to my friend:

“…on top of all that, I am now spiraling, feeling like WTF is wrong with me, looking around this dang park with today’s perfect SoCal-like weather and everyone taking selfies, Funnel Caking and heeheehee, able to enjoy themselves.

I feel like a f*cking failure ‘cuz I couldn’t put our fight on pause like a mature ass adult and parent but girl, I just felt so unheard and still do.  No matter how many times I tried, I could NOT just ‘snap out it,’ take a deep breath and re-emerge as Mom who is able to Funnel Cake and Batman ride right now!”

My friend and I talked over each other, which is what we do.  I told her that rehashing it won’t get us anywhere so let’s just pray.  But before she prayed, she shared with me, “STOP!  Stop it.  LOOK, I been there!  And it is OK that you couldn’t collect yourself to take your kids to the rides as a family.  It’s not fair to put such a time pressure on yourself for being OK.  It’s OK to show your kids that Mommy had to go collect herself and yes, even at Six Flags.  And if you think you the only one melting down, trust me.  Some of these families you comparing yourself to?  They already had their meltdowns on the way in or will have them later as they leave.”

She also shared just how “been there” she been, which helped spare me from beating myself up even more.  All while speed-talking before her girl’s birthday party.

Of course, as a friend, she couldn’t just co-sign on all my bad habits.  She did acknowledge that I can work on some thangs, but she let me know that I was not the only mom who had failed.  In this age where phone calls are obsolete, I’m so glad I was able to reach her.

Also, this past week, I’ve been chatting online with some dear mom friends and the power and beauty of that chat was all in the “Me, too.”

Sometimes, a “Me, too” is more life-giving than any, “I’ll pray for you” or “Have you ever considered…?” or “At least you…”  (Actually, no one enjoys an “At least you…” ever).

And I don’t know why my self-talk can be so damn mean.  “Snap out of it” is the worst message, something I would never tell anyone else after being told that when I suffered from clinical depression decades ago.

I don’t know about others but I am my own harshest critic and I would like to work on that.  If I don’t check myself and remind myself aloud, like Stuart Smalley on SNL, my negative self-talk can be downright fatal.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“How come other moms don’t experience such a range of emotions?  Why are you so extra?!”

“How come I’m not more like Kevin?  He can handle so much more.”

“How is that other mom so damn calm?  Does she ever yell?!”

And in the darkest moments, “What if my kids are better off without me?”

I’ve constantly asked myself, even on this blog, why I am prone to confessions while some are never prone to any self-deprecation.

I think I’ve always been drawn to the power of “Me, too,” to help others (and myself) know that we are ALL broken.

Sometimes, I hear church folk talkin’ about how we are all broken but for the life of me, I can’t imagine this person in front of me ever breaking down.  So when someone shares their weakness, it is downright life-giving.

This is why I can relate to addicts and recovery programs, though I have not been an addict myself – the opportunity and ability to share low moments with each other, to remind each other regularly that we all struggle.

And to be clear, “Me, too” is not to be mistaken for having a pity party where we bring each other down and stay there, or excuse bad habits together but to remind each other that we can be imperfect, that there is always more grace.

We can fail in big and small ways, but as long as breathe air in and out of our different-shaped nose holes, we can seek redemption for moments and narratives we want to shed.  And one thing is for sure:  we will mess up again, and His mercies abound.

Lamentations 3:21-23 “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

 

Precious Moments

As I grow older, I am realizing time is as much of a commodity as money.  In some cases, more.

Right now, I have to use the bathroom but I want to write so badly before Olive wakes up from her mini-nap.  I would choose writing over eating, depending on my mood that day.

Once Olive is up, we have to be on our way to fetch the boys who will stick their sweaty heads into her Snap N Go to give her kisses all over her chubby face as I repeat myself, “Give her space!  She is a person!  Here’s some Purell!”

Hours later, I will get to hand the three off to Daddy as soon as he gets off the subway to release me to Parent Engagement Night, aka Back to School night.

As packed as our days (and nights) are, I can tell these are the very days Empty Nesters will remind us to enjoy every moment of.

I’m not sure what I want my blog to be.  I often wish I could be the blogger who writes about tips on taking trips with kids, or recipes, or other how to’s but I’m not wired that way.  I am prone to confessing, sharing too much, and talking about my inner life, aka being a Non-Monetizing Blog.

My kids take my breath away.  I won’t be able to share much as they get older but for now, I can still share these mundane but meaningful moments:

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Photo #1: Alone but Together

My big one wanted to assert his independence by riding alone on the kiddie ride this past weekend at Six Flags.  This was a precious moment as Ellis and I beamed when our ride would line up with Micah’s and Micah would beam back with his one missing tooth.  I will carry that moment in my heart and hopefully conjure it up when they are pre-teens.

He wanted to be on his own but did not find it uncool yet to be thrilled to see us next to him.

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Photo #2:  I Spy with My Blue-Lashed Eye

“Micah, can you make sure Olive…”

“Yeah, I’m already holding her hand and foot so she knows she isn’t alone.  I checked to make sure the sun is not in her eyes.  She has some tears on her cheeks so I wiped them.  She has some on her lashes, too.  And I’m gonna sing to her now.”

Though Big Boy and I butt heads from being wired too similarly during our low moments, he blessed me so much when he told me yesterday, unprompted:

“I appreciate you taking us to the library program even though it was crowded and loud.  I’m proud of you, Mommy.”  HIGHLIGHT OF MY DAY.

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Photo #3:  These are the Days of Our Lives

When there is a new baby on the scene, folks immediately and naturally relate it to their own stage in life.  “Oh, we are SO done!  I can’t even imagine going through that again!”  “Now we get to travel!  No diaper bags!  We sleep so well.”

It’s been extra busy with Back-to-School events and forms that have got me cross eyed, those darn blue cards with fonts shrinking every year, this time in Spanish first, then nearly invisible English.

Kevin and I have not been able to soul-talk after a big fight because we have to talk about the more mundane but necessary items like how to keep us all clothed, fed, bathed, hydrated, schooled, homeworked, and bedtimed, and other -ed’s.  And yet, I can just feel that these are the very best, most tender days of our lives, while the kids are still so pure and while we are still not decrepit.

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Photo #4:  My Olive Royl at 3.5 months old, post Baek-Il

Cracking us up by being so calm, down for every family adventure, suddenly drooly like Biggest Bro was, sucking on her whole fist and wrist like she workin’ on a jokbal (Korean roasted, seasoned Pig Foot).  She has moved on from smiling to trying out this sound called Laughter and splashing lots in the bath.  I must capture on video.

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Photo #5:  Don’t Forget Me, Mommy!

My Middle has expressed that he would like to be born again so that Mommy can love him again as a baby.  Awwww.  Imagine being snuggled so much until a smaller, cuter thang arrives out of your mom’s swoll belly, monopolizing her time, energy, and teat.

With three kids, there isn’t as much of Mommy and Daddy to go around.  I pray that we can still make each FEEL loved.

Olive is up and we must get going.  Thank You Lord for each moment.  Please give us more energy for the second half of our day.

Behold: New Things Have Sprung Forth

I know the timing of this post sucks. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston about a week ago and now Floridians are bracing themselves for Hurricane Irma.

So I feel sheepish and rude to share that while catastrophes swirl about on our green globe, in my personal life, I am happy. Quite possibly the happiest I have ever been.

I recently realized that I respond to “How are you?” by sharing laments or struggles because that seems to be the easier way to connect to others. I know I can’t connect to someone if they only share green pastures, Happy Happy Joy Joy, perhaps because there is no risk involved in sharing only the shiny moments.

But because I am the opposite and lead with difficulties first, I want to work on sharing praises more, without worrying that others might be like, “Well, congrats to you, bitch. Can’t relate.”

I’m repeating myself but having a baby at 40 was an answer to a couple years’ worth of prayers, asking, “Please remove this impractical desire for a third baby OR somehow work it out for our family as I am consumed by this desire.” I shared before that Kevin had a vision from God and it was realized when I conceived at the age of 39.

Sure, we are tired because we have a wide-eyed baby with no official bedtime yet, in addition to two growing, active boys who need our attention, in some ways more than when they were babies. But even in that sharp tiredness, we sing and laugh each night, as our cheeky girl shimmies to our pitchy serenades.

We shake our greying heads in amazement that she has joined us when for years, she was a fantasy I tried to excise, only joking about it, wiggling my eyebrows and quipping at Costco, “I’mma just buy some prenatal vitamins, eh? My obsession won’t go away,” and Kevin saying, “Not funny.”

Also, after many of our weekends were devoted to house-searching, our prayers for a house were answered in the form of, “Nope, NOT YET!” Surprisingly, staying in our imperfect town has added to my happiness. I appreciate living closer to couple close friends, our non-family village.

Just a few weeks ago, we moved to a slightly more spacious apartment in the very town we wanted to graduate from, and we love our new amenities.

We sit on our tiny terrace to have family dinner together while the weather is still gorgeous. Kevin and I people-watch. We saw a dad screaming at his kid because the kid didn’t listen, causing some groceries to spill out. Now that we are parents, we completely judged the kid and commentated, “He should have listened. How many times the poor dad gotta repeat himself!?”

Biggest quality of life update: We have a second bathroom. Glory be! Even with such upgrades, by the grace of God alone, I remain down-to-earth puahahaha.

Because we live a quick jog away from our old co-op, we were able to drop by twice before we gave it up completely. Though we outgrew that space almost as soon as we moved in in the fall of 2010, all the memories came rushing back as we looked around the vacant space:

My parents, fresh from the airport, walking in to see their first grandchild, just days old, six pounds of fragile newborn, laying in his bassinet.

Another son joining his more laid-back parents two years later.

Hoisting my pregnant self off our high bed once again in 2017 and my water breaking for the first time, to meet our first daughter.

Just as Micah and I became teary-eyed about the memories housed in those 900+ square feet, Olive let out a rare yelp, as if to say, “Enough. Let’s roll out. I only had a couple months of memories here and I’m ready to make more with you guys.”

19″Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19

Thank You, Lord, for letting us say goodbye in installments, to our old home. And thank You also for new things springing forth. I am so happy and learning to enjoy green pastures. Every good and perfect gift comes from You.

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If These Walls Could Talk

In less than a week, we will be waking up in our new home, our unexpected new home for just one year, while we soul search about where to lay down roots.

I might have to force the family to do vision boards.

Goodbye to our first home as parents.

Seven years, three babies, 900 square feet.

Thank You, Lord, for watching over us, through the laughter and awe, through the screaming and tears.  ALL OF IT.  Only You knew the answers to all of our questions.

I waddled in here on September 28, 2010, with baby Micah in my womb.

Now we walk out as a family of five.  Grateful beyond belief.

What words

have smashed against
these walls,
crashed up and down these
halls,
lain mute and then drained
their meanings out and into
these floors?

What feelings, long since
dead,
streamed vague yearnings
below this ceiling
light?
In some dimension,
which I cannot know,
the shadows of
another still exist. I bring my
memories, held too long in check,
to let them here shoulder
space and place to be.

And when I leave to
find another house,
I wonder what among
these shades will be
left of me.

“The New House” by Maya Angelou

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6.24.17 (photo credit:  Keri Tan Photography)

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